oppn parties Political Funding Reforms: This Government is Not Serious

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  • Crude prices fall sharply as Saudi Arabia assures normal production in a few weeks. Prices fall by 5.4% to $65.30 per barrel
  • Sensex tumbles 700 points over fears that rising crude prices will deal a body blow to the tottering Indian economy
  • As Rajeev Kumar fails to appear before the CBI despite several notices, the agency forms a special team to locate and apprehend him
  • S Jaishankar says Pakistan is not a normal neighbour and its behaviour is a "set of aberrations"
  • External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar says PoK in Indian territory and the country hopes to have physical jurisdiction over it one day
  • Barasat Sessions court near Kolkata rejects Rajeev Kumar anticipatory bail application citing lack of jurisdiction as the reason
  • PM Modi celebrates his birthday with Narmada aarti and later has lunch with his mother.
  • All 6 Bahujan Samaj Party MLAs merge with the Congress in Rajasthan
  • Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee to meet PM Modi on Wednesday, state issues on the agenda
  • Pakistan to open Kartarpur corridor on Nov 9
  • Rajeev Kumar, ex-police commissioner of Kolkata and wanted for questioning in the Sarada scam does not appear before the CBI despite the state administration requesting him to do so
  • Supreme Court asks the Centre to restore normalcy in J&K but keeping national interest in mind
  • As Trump accepts the invitation to attend a programme in Houston with PM Modi, India rushes to settle trade issues with US
  • After drone attack on Aramco's Suadi Arabia facility, oil prices jump 19% in intra-day trading causing worries for India
  • Imran Khan raises nuclear war bogey again, says if Pakistan loses a conventional war, it might fight till the end with its nuclear arsenal
Sunni Wakf Board and Nirvani Akhara write to the Supreme Court for a negotiated settlement to the Ayodhya dispute
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Political Funding Reforms: This Government is Not Serious

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
Buoyed by the lack of corruption in the upper echelons of this NDA government, one was expecting that it will bring about transparency in political funding and election spending, the two most opaque things that lead to corruption and worse. When Arun Jaitley had reduced the amount of cash political parties could receive as donation from a single source in his 2017 budget proposals, one was further enthused that more important reforms would be undertaken in due course.

But belying all hopes, Jaitley has introduced an amendment in his budget proposals that will make donations even more opaque. Hitherto, companies could donate up to 7.5% of their average net profits in the three immediately preceding years to one or more political parties. By proposing an amendment to the Companies Act, 2013, the finance minister seeks to withdraw the cap and the restriction.

Further, what troubles more is that companies will no longer be obliged to disclose the name of the political party to which they have made the donation. This will lead to big corruption as ruling parties can ask for donation to party funds (not needed to be disclosed and hence untraceable) in return for bestowing favours like licenses to companies.

Also, since funding through Election Bonds can be done without disclosing the names, companies should be barred from purchasing more than a certain amount of Bonds every year. In their case, it should be mandatory to disclose the name of the party to whom they paid through such Bonds. Ideally, it will be better if the Election Bond route is kept open only for individuals or non-corporate entities.

The intention of reforming political funding is to smash the cosy nexus between political parties and big business. This amendment is going to achieve the opposite. Hence, it should be withdrawn immediately. Some experts have pointed out that the section in the Companies Act could have been deleted ‘inadvertently.’ If it is indeed so, it should be restored without delay. It is fine if the government wishes to remove the cap, but disclosure norms should stay.